Sam McGinnis

Trans Visual Archives and the Pop-Up Museum

In recent decades, pop-up museums have been the site of both radical trans critique and the emergence of a highly commodified “selfie museum.” What is it about the pop-up— an ephemeral, shape-shifting installation of objects and artworks— that allows it to be harnessed by both trans activists/archivists and for-profit corporate sponsors? Why do these queered reimaginings occur in a historical moment saturated with neoliberal museum policies and increasing state surveillance of bodies? To examine these questions, I will utilise three key case studies of trans-led pop-ups from various colonial contexts, engage debates around gender and decolonization, and pose an anti-capitalist critique of the culture industry. SURF will allow me to develop a robust theoretical framework for a senior thesis by working through a reading list in three major phases: museology and the pop-up, contemporary trans studies, and trans-led pop-up museums in the US and Perú. Additionally, I will immerse myself in French language scholarship in order to determine a third case study from a French post-colonial context.

Message to Sponsor

I greatly appreciate the support provided by the Anselm Fund this summer. It allowed me to dedicate myself to full-time research, see my own work as meaningful and important, build community with other student researchers, and grow in my overall competency as a scholar. I especially want to thank my donor for their recognition that undergraduate research is valuable and warrants fair compensation, rather than payment in exposure or experience alone. This experience taught me a great deal about how to manage my own research projects going forward and has made me more confident in my intentions to pursue graduate research later in my life.
  • Major: Art History, Comparative Literature
  • Sponsor: Anselm Fund
  • Mentor: Anneka Lenssen